Vaping, or using e-cigarettes, was initially presented as an alternative to smoking or a method to stop smoking. Conversations about the risks of vaping have resurfaced with the presence of a new strain of pneumonia that is associated with the use of e-cigarettes. Lipoid pneumonia is frequently linked to vaping. Vaping-related deaths have occurred throughout the country and have ranged from accidents with vape devices themselves to lung injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, five patients in two different hospitals in North Carolina shared symptoms of illness and all had a recent history of using e-cigarettes.
All five of these patients had respiratory failure within two days of being admitted into the hospital. Multiple medical tests concluded that the patients had contracted acute lipoid pneumonia that may have been the result of inhaling the aerosolized oil in e-cigarettes. Officials postulated that this could have created the symptoms presented by the patients. While all five patients were successfully treated and discharged, the ongoing discussion about vaping continues.
Dangers of Vaping
There are many dangers of vaping. Although it is often advertised as an alternative, vaping is not safer than smoking. The process of using vape pens or e-cigarettes includes inhaling the contents of liquid pods. This is typically concentrated nicotine, but can also include other ingredients. E-cigarettes are found to be both physically and psychologically addictive.
The American Lung Association states that vaping health risks include:
- Vaping Health Risks
Introducing unknown chemicals into the bloodstream
Inflammation in the mouth
The reduction of mitochondria that help heal wounds
Habitual coughing or expectorating
Arterial wall hardening
Many well-known nicotine side effects extend to vaping.
Trends in Vaping
In some sectors, there is a cultural misunderstanding that nicotine use is obsolete due to the concerted efforts of policymakers over the last two decades. Many medical experts are concerned that, as the century of cigarettes ended, a new era of nicotine consumption began with the introduction of e-cigarettes. While e-cigarette manufacturers argue that they are contributing to the decline in the use of combustible cigarettes, health officials argue that they are engaging a new generation of tobacco users with appealing alternative devices.
The vape trend is present in multiple demographics, but vaping statistics reflect significant use among adolescent populations. According to data from the Department of Health and Human Services, between 2011 and 2018:
- 61.9% of teens think that occasionally using e-cigarettes causes little harm
- 58.8% of high school students who smoked traditional cigarettes also used e-cigarettes
- 16% of high school students used e-cigarettes within the last 30 days in 2015
Seeing a new strain of pneumonia emerge as a possible consequence of vaping adds fuel to the fire for regulatory agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In August 2019, the FDA required four different vaping manufacturers to remove 44 e-liquid and hookah products with tobacco from the market because they didn’t have the right authorization. This represents consistent efforts from the FDA to oversee and put a stop to unauthorized production, manufacturing or distribution of these kinds of products.
Even as vaping may continue to be popular among certain segments of society, news stories like these and new medical findings could diminish the use of e-cigarettes.
If you or someone you know is addicted to tobacco in any form, quitting can help protect from lasting damage. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about how you can quit using tobacco. If you are using drugs or alcohol along with tobacco, you may need additional help. Contact The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health to learn more about treatment options for co-occurring substance use and mental health conditions.
Abrams, David B. “e-Cigarettes: Can we use them to make combusting of tobacco obsolete end the “cigarette century” and its preventable deaths?” The Schroeder Institute for Tobacco Research and Policy Studies, March 2014. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Davidson, Kevin; et al. “Outbreak of Electronic-Cigarette–Associated Acute Lipoid Pneumonia — North Carolina, July–August 2019.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. September 13, 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Moritz, Troy. “Vaping: It’s All Smoke and Mirrors.” American Lung Association, March 18, 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “E-Cigarette Use Among Youth and Young Adults A Report of the Surgeon General.” 2016. Accessed September 19, 2019.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA notifies four companies to remove 44 flavored e-liquid and hookah tobacco products from the market for not having required marketing authorization.” August 8, 2019. Accessed September 19, 2019.